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Geography

Climate

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The climate in a particular part of the world will influence its vegetation and wildlife, so is fundamental to life on Earth. Find out about factors influencing weather and climate and how to interpret climate data.

Weather and climate

Sunny weather in Hyde Park, London

Sunny weather in Hyde Park, London

Weather describes the condition of the atmosphere. It might be sunny, hot, windy or cloudy, raining or snowing. Climate means the average weather conditions in a particular location based on the average weather experienced there over 30 years or more. Global climate zones with similar flora [flora: All the different types of plant species that live in a specific area. ], fauna [fauna: All the different types of animals that live in a specific area. ] and climate are called biomes.

The weather takes into account the temperature [Temperature: How hot or cold something is, for example the atmosphere or the sea. ], precipitation [precipitation: Moisture that falls from the air to the ground. Includes rain, snow, hail, sleet, drizzle, fog, and mist are also precipitation. ], humidity [humidity: The amount of water vapour in the atmosphere measured as a percentage. ] and atmospheric pressure [atmospheric pressure: the weight of air resting on the Earth's surface. ] of the part of atmosphere (air) closest to the surface of the earth.

The weather is constantly changing as temperature and humidity change in the atmosphere. Landmasses, such as the British Isles, experience constantly changing weather conditions.

Climate refers to what is expected to happen in the atmosphere rather than the actual conditions. It is possible for the weather to be different from that suggested by the climate.

  • Climatic conditions in an area can be affected by the landscape, relief and activities taking place (both human and natural). Climate can alter over time and space.
  • Within a climatic region, the climate may vary from place to place - eg the top of a hill, the sunny side of a hill, the shaded side of a hill and the bottom of a hill. These areas with their small variations are called microclimates.

The science of monitoring and studying the atmosphere and predicting its weather and climate is called meteorology. People who study the weather and climate are known as meteorologists.

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